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Reader Essay: "Blink"

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The Blinking Game.  I played it on car trips, during church, at the dinner table.  To win, you simply had to be the last to blink.  With eyes watering and stinging, the game seemed to last forever.  But, in reality, it never lasted long.  Because no matter how hard you try – how much willpower you have – the next Blink is simply inevitable.

As a kid, it felt as if I was forever waiting – for kindergarten to start, sleepovers, vacations, birthdays, a job, my first kiss, more independence.  But as I walked across the stage at high school graduation, I clearly recalled my first day of kindergarten and realized that all that waiting amounted to a couple of blinks. 

It seemed like only yesterday.  Surprisingly, I wished to be in kindergarten again – as long as it wasn’t the day I sat in the corner of the playground and cried – if only for one day.

Then came college, during which I waited some more – to find my way around campus, get enough sleep, finish the next research paper, graduate, eventually get a real job. 

Honestly, that was just yesterday.  Not surprisingly, I’d love to experience college again – as long as it’s not during finals week – if only for one day.

Marriage and five kids came with the next few blinks.  I spent several years in a fog – the fog of diapers, tantrums, sleepless nights, endless laundry.  But it was always balanced out and made magical with sweet baby smell, hugs, kisses, complete adoration of toddlers, pure joy.

Only yesterday I was rocking my babies to sleep.  I find myself longing for that stage of life again – as long as it’s not the week everyone in the house had the flu – if only for one day.

I blinked again – as slowly as possible, but not nearly slowly enough.  My oldest will be starting high school in the fall. 

The fog hasn’t cleared, it’s just shifted  – it’s now the fog of carpools and soccer and basketball and piano and homework and broken hearts and cell phones, wanting to string kids up by their toes, serving frozen pizzas at least twice a week.  And laundry.  Always the laundry.

But it is always balanced out and made perfect with play dates at the park, vacations, late night heart-to-hearts with teenagers, an unexpected hug and “Love you, Mom!” as someone is running out the door..

At some point in the future, it will admittedly be nice to have more time – for my career, to organize the thousands of pictures on my computer, to learn a new hobby, to breathe.  To get all that laundry done. 

The irony is that when I’m standing in my perfectly clean and organized laundry room, nothing left to wash, it will seem like yesterday when the laundry was never ever done.  And I have the feeling that I will really truly wish for more laundry – even if it’s the laundry from the day when the whole family ran outside in the rain, dragging in no less than one ton of mud on their clothing.

Please.  No more blinking.

I’m not ready.

But it’ll happen.  Because no matter how hard I try – how much willpower I have – the next Blink is simply inevitable.

And when I’m standing on the curb waving goodbye, eyes watering and stinging, all the blinking in the world won’t be able to hold back the tears.

Susie Boyce Angerbauer is a freelance writer and mother of five in Highland Village, TX.

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